NATIONAL Party of Scotland founder, the poet Hugh MacDiarmid, said in 1927 that “Scotland is unique amongst European nations in its failure to develop a nationalist sentiment strong enough to be a vital factor in its affairs”. That would seem to validate the case put forward by Sir Tom Devine and my constituency MSP, Tom Arthur, that Scotland was not an oppressed nation and therefore comparisons between ourselves and Pakistan are spurious. Case closed, it would seem.

However, like my fellow Renfrewshire scribe Winifred McCartney (Letters, Aug 16), I feel the Scottish experience is more complex as while Lowland Scotland was an enthusiastic partner in the Empire, Highland Scotland had to be subdued by force after 1746 with the attendant eradication of the Gaelic culture and clan system.

READ MORE: Tom Devine defends Anas Sarwar over Pakistan independence trolling

While the Lowlands were not oppressed, it is accurate to contend that Highland Scotland suffered from a kind of internal colonialism, co-ordinated by both the Scottish and English elites. I contend this to be the root source of the Scottish cringe, as while most national elites abused their own working classes, the Scottish middle class has to bear the painful historic memory of the knowledge that they colluded in the exploitation of the Scottish working class by a foreign elite.

What both Sir Tom and Mr Arthur overlook most profoundly in their simplistic analysis is the key question of class. The Scottish elites and mercantile classes definitely all benefited from the fruits of empire but the working classes most assuredly did not, their noted role being as British cannon fodder in foreign fields to extend Pax Britannia.

Why I, as the grandson of foundry workers, am expected to feel collective guilt for the role of the Scottish elite in exploiting Pakistani workers when my forebears lived in conditions only slightly better is beyond me. But this seems to be the ludicrous proposition that Sir Tom and Mr Arthur expect me to believe.

Cllr Andy Doig (Independent)
Renfrewshire Council

I WAS curious to see historian Tom Devine’s support for Anas Sarwar’s view that India was a colony and Scotland is not.

There has been a considerable shift in the views of many in Scotland since Professor Alf Baird produced his book Doun Hauden in 2020.

After Culloden, the Highlands were garrisoned with many English troops. Gaelic, Highland dress and culture seriously suppressed and many survivors forced into migration.This was not the pattern of behaviour of two equal nations cooperating with each other. As Alf Baird has shown from his studies of colonisation and liberation theory, denigration of language and culture and evidence of shared trauma are all aspects of the experience of colonisation.

READ MORE: Hypocrite Anas Sarwar has some nerve ... and is a liar to boot 

The Clearances and depopulation of the Highlands provide evidence of brutal suppression and genocidal behaviour from the English ruling class, with assistance from some incorporated Scottish ruling class elements, typical of colonial rulers. Alf makes the interesting claim that although Scotland was not a typical colony it was treated as such, and this has been the nub of much confusion around the issue.

Certainly Scotland produced administrators from Edinburgh University and many Scottish troops, but to claim that Scotland was “at the heart of Empire” is, in my view, a falsification of the position. James Hunter, in his many excellent studies of Highland life and culture, makes the point that many lairds demanded a son of the family of tenant farmers for the army or the tenancy was threatened. The impoverishment of families after the Clearances led many to take “the King’s shilling”.

READ MORE: Renewed calls for indy code of conduct after 'ugly and toxic' Perth protests

It is also vital to consider where the drive for Empire came from, and in its early stages it was from the notorious East India Company set up in 1600.

The reality is that oppression can be promoted in a variety of ways and part of that is the obfuscation that blurs and conceals the behaviour of the oppressor, leading to a colonised mentality that diminishes the potential for success and liberation.

Alf Baird has done us all a huge favour with his publication of Doun Hauden. To understand your own colonised mind is the beginning of the road to liberation.

Maggie Chetty

I WAS astounded at the doublethink of Anas Sarwar and Tom Devine who, in their attempt to play the “who’s the bigger victim” game, dismiss Scotland’s right to national sovereignty on the dubious grounds that Scotland wasn’t a victim of empire but was “at the heart of it.”

Let’s not forget that Scotland was subjected to an occupation and reign of terror in the aftermath of Culloden, was suppressed again during the 1820 rising, and had tanks and troops put on or streets in 1919 and 1926. And let’s not get into the Clearances and exploitation of the masses by those few – yes, few – who profited from being in the Empire and Union.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon labels protesters who verbally abused James Cook 'disgraceful'

And what about the elephant in the room that Sarwar and Devine neatly body swerve – the fact that many Indians cooperated and collaborated with the Empire, including Indian troops being sent to put down other populations. Yes, India, the so-called “jewel in the crown”, was also “at the heart of it” and also had its fair share of collaborators.

Celebrating the independence of one, while denying the right of another, based on sanctimonious and selective history-picking, makes you a hypocrite, Mr Sarwar.

Linda Horsburgh

“DONALD Trump’s Turnberry trip complicated as ‘FBI seize passports in Mar-a-Lago raid’” (Aug 16). No problem, Donald Trump had a Scottish mother so he can get his pal Boris Johnson to rush a passport over to him, and chuck in knighthood or peerage as a token of the special relationship.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry